I am not surprised at the superficiality of an editorial in today’s New York Times. The editors at the Times are notoriously predictable in their knee-jerk defense of secularist liberal values. Unfortunately, this fact often means that they do not engage the real issues that are at stake in a given debate.
In the editorial “The Democrats and Judge Alito,” the Times once again shows its penchant for missing the point. The gist of the piece argues that “there is reason to believe that Judge Alito could do significant damage to values Democrats have long stood for.” It goes on to complain that “Alito showed as a federal appeals court judge – when he voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring women to inform their husbands before getting an abortion – that abortion rights can be severely diminished even within the framework of Roe. The same thing could be true in other areas.”
In other words, the Times thinks that the Supreme Court exists to promote “values Democrats have long stood for.” This is precisely the point of contention between Republicans and Democrats over the role of the courts. Democrats think that Supreme Court Justices should promote values. Republicans believe that Justices should interpret the Constitution according to the framers original intent.
The editorial urges that “Democrats should put a heavy burden on Judge Alito to show that he would not do damage to the Constitution.” Yet it’s the Democrats who want Justices to bend the Constitution to whatever it is that promotes their values. Alito’s only aim as a Justice would be to apply the Constitution according to the framers’ intent. The only philosophy that “damages” the Constitution is the one that ignores it or distorts it. Yet this is precisely what a Justice would do if the Times had its way.
The Times does not acknowledge this debate. Common sense says that the only proper way to interpret a document is to try and figure out what the author of the document meant when he wrote it. Any mode of interpretation that ignores the author is fraudulent on its face. The Times knows that if Americans learn that liberals embrace justices who will ignore the authors of the Constitution, liberals will lose the debate over judicial philosophy.
Thus, this is a debate that the Times nor the liberals can afford to have.